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Help with childcare costs

There are a number of schemes and support available to help parents pay for the cost of childcare.

Free early education and childcare

All three and four year olds and some two year olds are entitled to a certain amount of free early education and childcare. This is known as the Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) which is a government grant.

Working parents

30 hours of free childcare
All three to four year olds in England already get 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year of free early education and childcare. From September 2017 this will increase to 30 hours a week for eligible working families.

Get more information about the 30 hour free childcare entitlement.

Tax Free Childcare
Tax-Free Childcare is a new government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs. The new scheme is being rolled out from early 2017.

Parents will be able to open online childcare accounts to pay their registered childcare providers directly. For every £8 a parent pays into their account, the government will add £2.

Parents can get up to £2,000 a year and £4,000 for parents who have a disabled child, towards their childcare costs.

To qualify

Your child:

  • is under 12, or 17 if they're registered as having a disability
  • usually lives with you

You (and your partner, if you have one):

  • are 16 or over
  • live or work in the UK
  • are employed or self-employed
  • earn at least £115 a week and not more than £100,000 per year (only one parent has to be working in a lone parent family)

Parents will be able to apply for Tax Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare (for working parents of three and four year olds) through a single online application on GOV.UK.

Parents of the youngest children will be able to apply first. All eligible parents will be able join the scheme by the end of 2017.

You can get email notifications about when to apply by signing up on GOV.UK.

Get further information on GOV.UK:

Childcare element of Working Tax Credit
Anyone working 16 hours or more per week may qualify for Working Tax Credit. It includes a childcare element to help pay towards the cost of registered or approved childcare.

This can pay up to 70% of eligible childcare costs to a maximum of £175 per week for one child and £300 per week for two children or more.

The amount that you receive will depend on your income.

Get further information on GOV.UK:

Childcare vouchers
Working parents may be able to get help from their employer in the form of childcare vouchers.  You can choose to substitute part of your salary for a childcare voucher. Childcare vouchers enable you to pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary, and your employer will not need to contribute. This means you don't pay tax or insurance on childcare vouchers (up to £55 per week) and you could save over £1,000 per year.

Childcare vouchers may affect the amount of tax credits you can get. If you already receive the childcare element of Working Tax Credit you can check whether you would be better off with childcare vouchers on GOV.UK.

Use the childcare indicator calculator on GOV.UK

Universal Credit
Universal Credit is a new benefit for people on low incomes both in and out of work. It will gradually replace a number of benefits, including Working Tax Credit. It includes a childcare costs element for working parents who are paying for childcare. If you’re eligible you will be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children.

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. When you can claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.

Get more Universal Credit information on GOV.UK

Student parents

Care to Learn
Care to Learn can help parents aged under 20 with registered childcare costs while they study. It can also help with associated travel costs. Eligible parents can receive up to £160 per child per week (£175 living inside London) towards the cost of childcare.

Get more Care to Learn information on GOV.UK

Childcare Grant
You may be eligible for help with your learning costs if you:

  • are a full-time higher education student
  • have children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs

The grant:

  • doesn’t have to be paid back
  • is paid on top of your other student finance

You must be eligible for student finance to apply for a Childcare Grant.

Get more Childcare Grant information on GOV.UK

University and college hardship funds
You could get extra money from your university or college if you’re experiencing financial hardship. Contact the student services department at your university or college. They decide if you qualify and the amount you get.

Parents of disabled children

Inclusion funding for under-fives
If your child is attending an early years or childcare provision in Waltham Forest, your provider may be able to apply to the council for additional funding. It does not cover the cost of the standard childcare fees but may be able to help if your child requires additional support due to their disability or special educational need.

Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the additional costs of looking after a child living with a disability. Your child may qualify for DLA if they have a physical disability and/or special education needs (SEN), and require more help or supervision, than other children of the same age who don’t have a disability.

Get more DLA information on GOV.UK

Disabled child element of Child Tax Credit
You may get more Child Tax Credits if you are claiming DLA for your child, through the disabled child element of Child Tax Credit.

Get more Child Tax Credits information on GOV.UK

Carer's Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is money for people who look after someone with substantial caring needs. You don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for. You must be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.

Get more Carers Allowance information on GOV.UK

Direct Payments
Direct Payments are a way of arranging services for disabled children and young people and their families. Direct payments can be made to those with parental responsibility for a disabled child, letting parents choose and buy the services they need. The council decides if a child is eligible by carrying out an assessment of needs.

As a parent you can use direct payments to buy a placement at a nursery offering specialist support, for short breaks, equipment, personal care or to provide assistance for your child to attend an activity or after school club.

Tax Free Childcare for disabled children
Tax-free childcare will be introduced in autumn 2017. Under the scheme the Government will contribute 20 per cent of the cost of each child's childcare, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. However, the maximum payment for a standard three-month entitlement period will be doubled to £4,000 for disabled children. This means that a parent with a disabled child will be able to pay up to £16,000 into their childcare account per year and receive top-up payments of up to £4,000.

Get more information on Tax Free Childcare on GOV.UK

Get some support

If you need further support with looking for childcare, contact us at childcare@walthamforest.gov.uk or call 020 8496 3566.

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